Two candidates are seeking the Republican nomination in the March 6 primary election for the Delaware County commissioner term commencing Jan. 3, 2012.

Two candidates are seeking the Republican nomination in the March 6 primary election for the Delaware County commissioner term commencing Jan. 3, 2012.

Incumbent Ken O'Brien, 51, and former Delaware County sheriff Al Myers, 62, are vying to be the GOP candidate in the November general election. Both are Delaware city residents.

The winner will run against Democratic write-in candidate Richard Bird, 44, of Westerville.

Myers, of Radnor Township, and his wife, Shelly, have three children. He is a lifelong county resident.

A professional security consultant and private investigator for public and private entities, Myers graduated from Rutherford B. Hayes High School and has taken about a year of college courses in law enforcement.

He served 14 years as Delaware County sheriff, 13 years as a deputy for the office and eight years in the Air Force.

He is a Vietnam veteran.

Myers said he is running for office because he is committed to public service and people encouraged him to do so.

"That's what my life has been," he said. "I've been away from it for about four and a half years. During that time, I've been a member of the Agricultural Society board of directors."

"And I'm a small-business person, so I know small business," Myers said. "Yet I ran the sheriff's office, which when I left had a budget of $13 million and 150 employees. That's a big business."

Myers said he also has a track record of building consensus among agencies, such as bringing a task force together for countywide mutual aid agreements.

O'Brien, of Berlin Township, is married and has three children. He is a lifelong county resident.

He has served as commissioner since taking office in January 2009. He also is a special education teacher on leave from Worthington City Schools.

A graduate of Olentangy High School, he holds a bachelor's degree from Ohio State University and a master's from Eastern Kentucky University.

As a commissioner, O'Brien serves on several boards and commissions, including Delaware Knox Marion and Morrow County Solid Waste District, Delaware County Regional Planning executive committee and Delaware County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Previously, he was a Berlin Township trustee and a member of the township's zoning commission.

O'Brien said he has reached his first-term goals. They include stopping a $52-million proposed courthouse to avoid raising taxes; finishing the Hayes administration building interior to house probate and juvenile courts; consolidating the 911 call center; and completing renovations of the county jail.

He said he wants to see through his current goals of keeping "the 1-mill tax rollback and working with other entities to effectively and efficiently deliver the services that taxpayers need."

Both candidates see the county budget as the biggest issue facing commissioners.

Myers said, "The most pressing issue for the county is to continue to operate the county government which the commissioners are the budgetary authority for in a conservative manner while providing the best services. (Also) as sitting as commissioner, it's very important that we bring civility and professionalism back to that office."

O'Brien said, saying "no" to spending is important.

"As revenue disappears for other entities, they are asking the county for money. These are very good causes. But the county must say, 'No.' Delaware County (has) quality schools, a highly educated work force, excellent infrastructure, good natural resources, location and relatively low taxes. We cannot raise taxes and expect to continue to be a destination county."

Both agree that helping the county grow wisely is an important goal.

"My primary goal for the county is to make the public feel welcome to come to the commissioners' office during sessions and make their opinions and requests known without feeling it's a battle ground, and to continue to develop the county in a responsible way," Myers said. "We're a growing community, but we can do it in a manner that doesn't force growth down people's throats. Certain things commissioners must do by law, (but) you can listen to the voice of the public."

O'Brien's goal for the county is to keep "low taxes that attract businesses that have high-paying jobs."

He wants decisions made by the commissioners in 2013 to be "also good for the county in 2053."

"We need to grow wisely and with quality," O'Brien said. "For instance, the (Interstate) 71-(U.S. Route) 36 new interchange must handle development and traffic well. We must spur quality development and not have a Northland Mall situation 40 years from now."